Growing Food in Your House

Published 14th May 2016 by Michelle

The ‘grow your own’ trend may have passed you by if you’re living in a city flat with no outside space. But in this post I’ll show you that it needn’t – you can grow your own food indoors with just a windowsill!

Last year I grew tomatoes, green peppers and chillies on my living room windowsill. I ended up with a decent amount of produce and it tasted great – the tomatoes in particular had that sweetness and flavour that you just can’t buy in a supermarket.

Tomatoes ready to harvest

My home grown tomatoes!

Let there be light!

I did have to devote a good windowsill spot to my veg plants – tomato, pepper and chilli plants all need a decent amount of sunlight to get the energy needed to produce fruit.

Quick side note – Tomatoes, peppers and chillies are, biologically speaking, fruits, since they are seed bearing. In biological terms, vegetables are all other plant parts such as roots, leaves and stems.

So, I needed a windowsill that gets a decent amount of light, but having said that, the windowsill I chose was north east facing (in the UK south facing windows get the most light) and my plants still produced fruit successfully.

My home grown chillies!

How to grow tomatoes, peppers and chillies indoors

A step-by-step guide…

  1. You could try growing from seed, but if you want a bit of a headstart, I’d recommended buying plug plants (usually available to buy from around Mar-May) – which are young plants that are ready to be transplanted into bigger pots.
  2. Transplant your plug plant into a 9cm pot. Tomato, chilli and pepper plants grow quickly so be prepared to transplant once more in about 4-6 weeks – for tomatoes and chillies into 20cm pots, for peppers into 30cm pots.
  3. Support your tomato and pepper plants with a cane as they get bigger – stake the cane in the soil and tie the main stem of the plant to the cane with twine.
  4. When your plants start to flower, give them a plant feed once a week. A feed high is potash is generally recommended but I just used the same plant feed I use for all my plants and they were happy – Ecoworm Soil Extract Universal.
  5. To ensure a good crop, once your plants have produced flowers, help the pollination process by lightly ‘tickling’ the centre of each flower with your finger – check your plant for new flowers to tickle about once a week. This seems a bit strange but it’ll help pollination along which ensures you get produce!
  6. Remember, your indoor plants will be getting all their water from you, so they will need watering at least every other day in spring and as it get warmer, every day. If you miss a day here and there they should survive but on the whole you need to be watering daily in summer.

Chilli flowers

Pepper ready to harvest

Tomato Varieties

There are so many interesting varieties of tomatoes to choose from! I’d recommend a bush variety as these are more compact and don’t require any pruning. They are also suitable for growing in hanging baskets – ideal if you want to save windowsill space by fixing a hanging basket next to a window. You can also experiment with less common tomatoes varieties – perhaps purple, yellow or orange shades that you won’t find in the supermarket. Some varieties I’d recommend are the red ‘Losetto’, the yellow ‘Tumbling Tom Yellow’ or the stripy orangey-red ‘Tumbling Tiger’.

Harvesting

And now for the best bit – getting your hands on those yummy beauties! When your tomatoes, peppers and chillies are fully ripened, pick them off the plant (you may need to cut the pepper off) and enjoy!

When your plant has finished producing fruit, cut back taller and damaged leaves and stems, until your plant is reduced by about one third. Water your plant about once a week throughout the winter and wait for spring when your plant will start growing again for a new season.

I’d love to see what varieties of tomatoes, peppers and chillies you manage to grow indoors – send pictures to michelle@urbanbotanics.co.uk . Good luck!

Michelle x